Can Social Protection Help Promote Inclusive Growth?

Traditionally, social protection programmes have been regarded as important because of concerns for equity and because they are a means of directly alleviating poverty. Emerging micro-level evidence, however, shows that such programmes can have strong efficiency effects and thus can be growth-enhancing. This can occur through increasing poor people’s access to assets—by enabling them to buy livestock, building productive infrastructure such as roads and irrigation, promoting education and health, or reducing risk so that people can use assets more efficiently. Moreover, there is substantial evidence that the inability of many families to manage and cope with risks leads to sub-optimal investment and consumption choices that may harm economic efficiency. Social protection can also contribute to economic growth by reducing inequality and strengthening social justice and cohesion. On the other hand, concerns about perverse incentives and leakages can be addressed through well designed programmes. Expressions of concern about the unaffordability of social protection programmes are often exaggerated, especially in view of the programmes’ benefits. This publication features the following articles: The Boundaries of Social Protection; Income Security in Brazil: Achievements and Challenges; Social Safety Nets in Botswana; Financial versus Demographic Social Protection in Mozambique; Addressing Rural Poverty in Malawi: The Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme; New Challenges of Cash Transfers in Namibia; The Story of Cash Transfers in Indonesia; Improving the Design of Bolsa da Mãein Timor-Leste; Engaging Parliamentarians in the Social Protection Agenda; Development Policy’s Missing Link; Social Protection Programming: The Need for a Gender Lens; Changing the Face of Development in India: the NREGA experience; Innovations in Administering Social Protection Programmes; and Tackling Poverty in India: The Role of the Unique ID Number.